Monday, May 19, 2014

Editorial: What is the point of motorcycle sound systems?

Image courtesy of Twisted Audio 
You are sitting at a stop light, minding your own business, listening to your favorite radio station. Suddenly, from behind you, you being to hear music and the distinct rumble of a motorcycle. Thinking it is just some kid with their car speakers turned up really loud, you ignore it. When the music finally comes next to you, you realize the music is actually coming from a motorcycle. The music coming is so loud, you can barely hear your own radio, much less your own thoughts. Once the light turns green, the motorcycle rumbles off off, the sound of its exhaust covering up any sound coming from the motorcycle's radio. You watch the motorcycle speed away thinking, "what the hell is the point of having a radio on a motorcycle if you can't hear it while the motorcycle is moving?"

The above scenario roughly describes my thoughts as I witnessed my first motorcycle mounted radio sound system. On my way to Marina Del Rey, a man and his wife pulled up on a large Harley Davidson cruiser next to my car. The music emanating from the couple's motorcycle was so loud, I could not hold a conversation with my fiancee. Once the light turned green, the couple's Harley pulled away, and the exhaust sound drowning out any noise coming from the radio. 

Image courtesy of Motorcycle USA
Though I do not know much about motorcycles or the motorcycle riding culture (that department is East Brother's territory), I have always assumed that riders not only enjoy listening to the raw sound of their motorcycle exhaust, but also try to listen to the environment around them to up their situational awareness. In order to actually hear the radio while the motorcycle is in motion, the rider would have to turn the system up extremely loud so it can overpower the sound of the exhaust. Would not the extremely loud stereo only serve to distract the rider since they cannot hear the environment around them? With lowered situational awareness, the rider is much more likely to get into an accident.  

Image courtesy of
Speaking of loud, a lot of riders seem to not care that their sound system is turned up extremely loud. As soon as they come to a stop, their sound system usually overpowers everyone else's sound system within a 50 foot radius. Forcibly making other people on the road listen to whatever you are listening is not only rude, it is downright annoying! If you want to distract yourself with an extremely loud radio, that is fine, but at least have the courtesy to turn it down when coming to a stop or shuffling through traffic. This not applies to motorcyclists with sound systems, but also car owners who like to turn up their radios extremely loud with all the windows down. 

I am just not sure I will ever understand the purpose of having a radio on your motorcycle. To each their own, I guess.   

tags: audiomotorcycle

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